LP reviews

Don Cherry, Dewey Redman, Charlie Haden, Ed Blackwell – ‘Old And New Dreams/ Gary Burton- ‘The New Quartet’ (on vinyl)

  • Old And New Dreams: Don Cherry, Dewey Redman, Charlie Haden, Ed Blackwell (1979)
  • Gary Burton: The New Quartet (1973)

(ECM Luminessence series. Vinyl reviews by Phil Johnson)

ECM’s new audiophile vinyl series follows up the inaugural releases (Kenny Wheeler and Nana Vasconcelos) with a second imaginatively matched pair, both albums again coming from the label’s earlier years and presented in facsimiles of the original sleeves with the addition of new liner notes. Once again the most striking facet is how good the LPs actually sound. In a vinyl revival market where some LPs seem to acquire scratches and crackle just by getting them out of their inner sleeves, no matter what the weight of the platter, Luminessence has already attained a remarkably high standard of production. Don Cherry’s trumpet and Gary Burton’s vibes have true weight and presence, the reproduction of their sound communicating with real intensity.

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The Old And New Dreams album, from 1979, is a fairly well known recording by alumni of Ornette Coleman’s bands and it features an authentic masterpiece in the opening extended version of Coleman’s most famous tune, ‘Lonely Woman’. Side 2’s opener, Coleman’s ‘Open Or Close’ is another hit, while Charlie Haden’s solo feature, ’Song For The Whales’, is a celebrated early example of what might be termed eco-jazz, with Haden’s big bass fiddle coaxing an imitative repertoire of whale-sounds through virtuoso bowing. The other tracks show the influence of what would later be termed world music, with echoes of Abdullah Ibrahim and perhaps Johnny Dyani, as Blackwell and Cherry improvise around African motifs. Recorded at Talent Studio, Oslo by engineer Jan Erik Kongshaug, who supplies a fair wallop of reverb to a top-form Cherry, it’s a classic ECM production.

I was unfamiliar with Gary Burton’s The New Quartet, from 1973, and on first listen felt it less impressive than the Coleman alumni, but it’s a real grower that I have grown to really appreciate and return to. As Burton says in the accompanying sleeve notes, this was his first release on a new label with a new band, in a new city (Boston, where he had gone to teach at Berklee), following the impromptu duo with Chick Corea, ‘Crystal Silence’, famed as one of the greatest of all ECM recordings.

Recorded at Aengus Studios in Fayville, Mass., with Mick Goodrick on guitar, Abe Laboriel, bass, and Harry Blazer on drums, the music has an almost punk immediacy on the opening tune, Corea’s ‘Open Your Eyes, You Can Fly’, where the very rock-friendly interlocking of electric bass, electric guitar and drums provides a cooking groove for Burton to decorate, followed by a Goodrick solo that’s gloriously heavy on the wah-wah. It’s six minutes and 40 seconds of absolute joy. The seven other tunes include two by Mike Gibbs, two by the late great Gordon Beck, and one each by Keith Jarrett, Carla Bley and Burton himself. All hail Luminessence.

LINKS: Buy Old and New Dreams

Buy The New Quartet

Both of these albums are released today 23 June 2023

Categories: LP reviews, Reviews

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